Thursday, September 28, 2017

Time to Relax

Anyone who has followed me for a while will know that I have been traveling a lot for quilty business for the last few years. I just love teaching quilting classes and meeting shop folks and guild members from across the country. However, there's nothing like a little personal getaway time.

Dave and I try to make some vacation plans around our anniversary - which is this coming weekend. This year, we stuffed a couple of suitcases into the car and headed east - Down East to be exact. Keep scrolling for a quick photo journal of our travels.

Two weeks ago today, Dave and I set out for Gloucester, Massachusetts for a little bit of R&R.

I guess you can say that Dave and I really like vacations where we're learning stuff. So we got right down to it with a visit to Beauport, also known as the Sleeper-McCann house just down the road from our B&B.

I guess you can say that Henry Davis Sleeper, a well-known interior design was quite a collector! Beauport was his summer home, filled with books, furniture, and colored glass to name a few items - tons of interesting stuff. And cubbies everywhere. This one in a stairwell, was filled with bird identification books!

After lunch, we headed out to the break water which protects Gloucester harbor . . .

And walked, and walked, and walked. Here's our return view.

Dave spent several summer vacations here with his family when he was growing up. He says, you can’t visit Gloucester without visiting Good Harbor Beach at low tide to search for sea critters in the tide pools. Can you find the crab trying to avoid becoming a seagull lunch?

Speaking of lunch, you know that feeling when lunch is ready, but you just can’t get the package open. So close, and yet so far. (By the way, the gull did manage to break the clam shell to unlock the feast)

There is a small island that is only connected to the beach at low tide. Of course, we had to explore!

We wrapped up our visit to Gloucester, and it was time to head north!

Our ultimate destination was Bar Harbor, Maine but we learned about a do-not-miss eatery in Wiscasset. Our sources said that Red's Eats lobster rolls were not to be missed (if you’re a lobster roll kinda person)

We waited in line an hour - had fun chatting with the other tourists. This better be good!

 . . . Oh, yeah . . .

Next stop: Mt Desert Island—Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. On our first day, we drove around the island to get a feel of things. The Bass Harbor Head Light is a Maine coastal classic!

Mr. Rockefeller’s bridges (John D. Rockefeller, Jr. is credited with building then donating the carriage paths that cover much of the park area) are a must-see when visiting the park.

The park is home to many, many species of flora and fauna, including some 300+ different types of lichens.

And, of course, the park rangers (this is Ranger Anne) offer programs filled with gobs and gobs of information about the park’s history.

And the food . . . you gotta eat on vacation! Might as well do it up. Our bed and breakfast, The Atlantean Cottage, served up hearty gourmet breakfasts daily. (So good!!)

When in Maine  . . . you gotta have lobster! (My apologies to my vegetarian followers - the potato and cole slaw were yummy!)

And the rocky shore . . .

Overlooking Bar Harbor from Cadillac Mountain.

Looking south, also from Cadillac Mountain

We did our share of walking, hiking, shopping, eating memorable food, bird watching, star-gazing, and hawk migration counting, and I even did a little stitching at the end of each activity-filled day. Summer turned into Autumn while we were in Maine.

Like anything, vacations come to a close. Dave and I have some great memories that carry on as we return to our daily activities.

Sunset over Sand Beach.

I am fully recharged and ready to stitch! I hope you enjoyed the photos. . . back to stitchy stuff next week!

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Getting Ahead of Myself

What month is this? September?? I thought so, I was just checking because I usually start thinking about my holiday cards and the hand-made ornament insert right around December 1. Well . . . that’s actually not quite true - I start *thinking* about it in October, but usually don’t start *doing* anything about it until December.

For some strange reason, this year is different. Don’t ask me why, but I’m not going to over analyze things. I’m just going to roll with it.

I started this several years ago. Every year, I put a hand-made ornament in my holiday cards. And sometimes I struggle with an idea for the ornament. Usually the idea pops into my head right around Thanksgiving and I have less than a month to pull it all together.

This year, for some reason the idea came early. And because it came early, I’m actually enjoying the process.

Spoiler alert: If you are on my holiday card list and want to be surprised, then read no further. But if you enjoy using up some scrap fabrics, and you don’t mind piecing and sewing in some pretty darn small spaces, then read on. AND there’s a bonus bundle at the end!

I’ll start with the finish point. Here’s the result. A scrappy-mini-log-cabin-block-ornament that I’m calling Yule Logs.

First the supplies. This project features the BlocLoc Log Cabin Trim Tool. As you may already know, I’m pretty fond of the BlocLoc half-square triangle trimming rulers, so I wasn’t surprised when I tried, and really liked their log cabin tools. My ornament project uses the itty-bittiest size.

Also needed: some fusible batting squares, some scrap fabrics (actually these bright solids are cut from a fat quarter find in my fabric stash, thanks to some Tidy Fabric Club prep that is underway), a focus print for the backing and binding (I’m using this adorable mini print from the Woodland Wonder collection from Quilting Treasures (more on that below). And some Clover Wonder Clips - the Mini Wonder Clips are ideal for this tiny project.

I started with a fussy-cut 1” square from the Woodland Wonder focus print. Since I want to have my ornament hang from a corner, I cut my center as well as my backing from the focus print on the bias. Then I added the first two strips, pressed the seams outward, locked in to the seam bulk with the BlocLoc groove on the bottom of the ruler, and trimmed the three raw edges using the tool.

Then added two more scrap strips, pressed, and trimmed to complete the round.

Lather, rinse, repeat. (Just kidding - I mean keep adding, pressing and trimming two opposite sides at a time to build the itty bitty log cabin.)

The fourth round is the last one.

In case I haven’t made myself perfectly clear - these are really, REALLY small pieces. The strips are cut 7/8” wide, then trimmed *down* after sewing. The logs finish to 1/4” wide - I 100% get that this is a little bit (a lot?) crazy, but the result is SO cool, and SO much easier than it could be by using the trim tool.

With four rounds sewn, my blocks are measuring just a hair over the ’should be’ measurement of 3” square. I could give them an added trim, but I’m good with that measurement since I’m not sewing them to each other. Each block will stand alone as it’s own. I think I may be incorporating a little bit of stretch into the fabric as I press. I’ll have to watch this as I make more. But for now, I’m rolling with it.

Next I’m going to sandwich a double sided fusible foam batting square that has been trimmed to match the block size between the block and centered on the oversized backing square. Fuse.

Then I work one side at a time: fold the backing edge so the raw edge meets the batting edge, then fold again so the first fold is on top of the ornament, and the second fold is snug against the batting. And clip with the Mini Wonder Clips. You could use pins, but because everything is so small, I think the mini clips work best.  

Miter at the corner by folding once diagonally at the corner . . .

Then making the first fold to begin the binding for the adjacent ornament side.

Clip, clip, clip to secure. . .

 . . . until you get all the way around.

Then secure the folded binding edge with a button-hole, zigzag, or satin stitch. A stiletto will help to keep the layers secure near the needle as you remove clips and sew the binding edge.

Add round or two of stitch-in-the-ditch quilting as desired. This step could be done before the binding steps as well.

The Yule Logs Bonus Bundle

Now, here’s the fun part, as promised. I’ve assembled a bundle of essential Yule Logs Ornament tools, so, if you choose, you can surprise your holiday list with a little something (very little!) hand made this year.

What’s included in the Yule Logs Special Bundle:

 - 1/4” & 3/8” BlocLoc Log Cabin Trimmers
 - One Package Mini Wonder Clips (20 in the package)
 - Twelve 3-1/2” square fusible batting squares (In-R-Form by Bosal)
 - Yule Logs Ornament Pattern
 - BONUS fat quarter of Woodland Wonder print

For a special bundle price of $29.95, saving 30% off the combined full price of $39.14. This special bundle is only available through Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The offer is good only while supplies last.

Are you in? Click the green button below to proceed.

I can’t even believe I’m this far ahead of the game for my holiday cards this year. The rest of the my holiday list can wait. I’ve got all of the fall season to consider my holiday plans--while I sew little itty-bitty log cabin ornaments!

How about you?

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Road Work Ahead

I’m packing again. Headed out of town for about a week or so. And you know what that means. . . .

It’s time to take a look around the studio for some travel-friendly projects to take on the road with me.

To begin, sustenance is critical. Pretzels are always good because they keep stitching fingers relatively clean. Since I’m not a big peanut butter fan, and you can find the peanut butter filled pretzels everywhere, these looked intriguing . . so they’re coming along.

I don’t like to bring too many projects when I’m on the road. So I like to focus on one ‘something’ that will hold my interest for the time away. I’ve had this project underway for years! I’ve brought it along on some recent retreats and to Alaska a few weeks ago. I’ve made some good progress. . . So it’s on deck.

The appliqué on all the small blocks around the outside are finished. When I started this all those many years ago, I thought the starch method was the best thing ever. I’ve since seen the light and prefer the back basting hand appliqué method. Unfortunately, a lot of the pieces were prepped for that other method. It’s a wrinkle. The center medallion and the outer swag, added after the blocks are sewn together, remain to be sewn.

Looking at the blocks, I kinda want to spruce them up a bit. Maybe add some embroidery . . .

So before I pack them up for travel, I want to back each of the blocks with Face It Soft to add a little extra body for the hand stitches. I used it for many (if not all) of the Splendid Sampler embroidery blocks in my quilt.

This stuff is the best! It’s woven and needles wonderfully. It’s fusible so a quick pop with the iron and it’s fused in place on the back of the blocks.

Can’t forget to bring my collection of bright and fun threads. Perle cottons by ArtFabrik and some neon six strand embroidery threads to use in moderation for a pop of bright here and there.

And a few stitchery books for reference.

I dunno, am I forgetting anything?

Maybe a toothbrush, and some fresh clothes, right?

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I Confess . . .

 My fabric stash has gotten a *little* out of control.

I suppose I’m a typical quilter. I see fabric, I buy fabric. I use some, I have ‘some’ leftover for future projects.

Some = Shelves of it.

I’m not sure when it happened that one or two stacks of fabric became several stacks. A system to keep it under control and accessible that used to work pretty well, doesn’t work so well any more.

I have a work room in my basement, with spacious shelves on one wall. Really nice. I store my fabric in stacks. Generally, by color. Over time the stacks have grown.

The stacks of fabric work out okay, until I need to grab a little something for a project. Inevitably, that little something is at the bottom of one of those stacks.

So, the stacks really don’t look that bad, right? But then there’s this . . . Ugh-h.

I have decided that it’s time for a change. Time to tidy things up. Organize by color.

Then arrange fabrics like books on a bookshelf so they are much easier to access.

I have also decided that the change isn’t going to happen over night. The project to organize has become too big.

And. . . if it’s gonna work - for me, anyway - it needs to be fun.

Maybe, if you have a similar situation on your hands, you’d like to join me in my quest for a little more stash organization. I’m in the process of developing the Tidy Fabric Club. I’ve mentioned this in passing before, but now that’s quilting season, I’ll be putting my plan into action. Could it be your plan, too? Hey, if we have ScrapTherapy®, then maybe we can create a little YardageTherapy! *wink!*

If you are interested, click here, scroll down a bit, and fill in the pertinent data. You’ll be the first in the know as the Tidy Fabric Club kicks off officially.

If all this tidy stuff isn't your cup of tea, don't worry, I've got a few other new things percolating. If you're a bird lover - like me - then you may want to stay tuned for more fun stuff . . . Coming soon to a Hummingbird Highway near you!

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford